In this week’s Q&A, The Texas Tribune interviews Paige Ware, who chairs the Department of Teaching and Learning at the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at Southern Methodist University.
Texas Tribune reporter Cassandra Pollock interviewed SMU education expert Paige Ware in the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development for a Q&A about preparing the teachers who teach English language learners by instructing them on-site at their schools and helping them work with families in community centers.
Ware’s research focuses both on the use of multimedia technologies for fostering language and literacy growth among adolescents, as well as on the use of Internet-based communication for promoting intercultural awareness through international and domestic online language and culture partnerships.
Her research has been funded by a National Academy of Education/Spencer Post-Doctoral Fellowship, by the International Research Foundation for English Language Education, and by the Ford Scholars program at SMU.
Ware was the principal investigator of a Department of Education Office of English Language Acquisition professional development grant supporting secondary school educators in obtaining their ESL supplemental certification.
She is co-author of a technology standards book for Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages and has written or co-written dozens of peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. She is a frequent speaker on technology as an acquisition tool for language and culture and on writing development in adolescent learners.
The Texas Tribune article, “The Q&A: Paige Ware,” published Aug. 31, 2017.
By Cassandra Pollock
Paige Ware chairs the Department of Teaching and Learning at Southern Methodist University’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. She recently received a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to prepare ELL (English language learners) teachers by instructing them on-site at their schools and helping them work with families in community centers.
Tasbo+Edu: Can you expand on the U.S. Department of Education grant you recently received?
Paige Ware: Yes — I co-wrote it with two of my colleagues. The Department of Education can offer these grants every five years; traditionally, they’re called professional development grants, and it’s basically money that flows into tuition to provide teacher training. However, this particular grant required an embedded strong research design into the teacher training components. That’s never been the case with these grants — it’s been exclusively just teacher training.
There were over 300 applications, and only 55 were funded. For our particular grant, we think we got funded for two reasons. First, we partnered really well with Dallas Independent School District. There’s a real desire right now for higher education and teacher training programs to do more partnering and work with districts to be more purposeful about the kind of professional development teachers need. We also partnered with the community; there’s a place in Dallas called the School Zone, which is a consortium of nonprofit groups that are there to help impact West Dallas.
The second reason we think we got the grant is our teachers will be deeply embedded in these community settings. They’ll be learning not just how to teach English better to those learners, but also learning the context. There are also multiple opportunities to work with parents.
Tasbo+Edu: The question your team is trying to tackle is whether it makes a difference for teachers to be practicing in community settings. How are you planning to move forward on it?
Ware: The question came about because most of the time in higher ed for master-level courses, we deliver instruction on university campuses; it’s divorced from actual practice in the field. Or we deliver our instruction on university campuses and then assign teachers to work on their own with English learners. There’s not engagement in the community at the graduate level. What do teachers learn differently when they’re not isolated, but when they’re actually out there in the field? We’re interested in knowing what advantages are there, and what you gain by placing teachers in the community.
There are six reasons why we think it will be advantageous for teaching in the community. First, professional development typically focuses on instruction. Second, our teachers will have more opportunities to engage with families, which isn’t always possible in a school setting. A third reason is our teachers will be able to learn from one another. Fourth, they’ll get to know the children really well because they’re only working with two children for an entire academic year. Fifth, there are a lot of opportunities for feedback, since our instructors will be with teachers in the field, giving them feedback on a weekly basis. Finally, we think this approach will help cultivate a mindset such that when teachers think about English learners, they’re seeing the education of new immigrants as a larger web of bringing people into the community.